Melba Patilla Beals writes an incredible story about building faith under fire throughout a lifetime of serving the Lord. As early as the age of fifteen, Melba was selected to be one of nine black students who would integrate into Central High School of Little Rock, AR. The persecution and hatred she experienced served to drive her closer to God and is the foundation of her lifetime devotion to him.
Melba mentions that as early as age 3 she learned Psalm 23 and the Lord’s Prayer. The two passages became her lifeline in times of extreme danger and loneliness. Her story inspired me as a mother, to teach Psalm 23 to my own daughter who is now 5. At first I wondered if she could do it, but it only took Esther one week to master it without error. This is just one example of how Melba’s words impacted me.
Growing up only a hand full of hours from Little Rock I was aware of the racism even now still abundant, but I had no experience with stories like this. It was so good for me to read this first hand account of the hatred that still thrives today. At some points of her story I would cry with her and at other places I would rejoice with her.
In 1999, Melba and the other eight were voted unanimously to receive the congressional award for their bravery as citizens. What I found amazing is that Bill Clinton was the current President at that time. At a time when Eisenhower deployed soldiers into the school to serve as personal body guards for the students, Bill Clinton was an eleven year old boy growing up less than two hours away watching the hatred unfold. Melba’s story so impacted him, that he would rise to become the President of the United States and lead the effort to award these citizens for their courage and bravery. I am not a Clinton fan, but I know the finger prints of God when I see them. God is always moving throughout history, weaving threads of redemption and glory.
I am giving this book five stars. It impacted me and challenged me to make a difference.